[David's Think and Thought3] Bridges of the Han River and Seaside Birds
by Lee Seongjae, an essay writer
Bridges of the Han River and Seaside Birds
Lee Seongjae, an essay writer
Incheon is a metropolitan city located on the western coast of the Korean peninsula. Citizens in Seoul can ride subway lines or take the Keongin expresswayconstructed in the mid-1960s to get to Incheon. During rush hour, we can see frequent bottle necks around Siheung, Gwacheon, and Gunpo exits because thousands of workers commute between Incheon and other satellite cities of Seoul every day.
Whenever I go to Incheon, I’m surprised to see the mixed variety of urban and rural land features such as landfills, residential areas, industrial complexes, lowlands, wetland, and numerous islands. I rode a bicycle to Allabetgill,which is a canal connecting the Yellow Sea and western Seoul.
I passed many bridges crossing the Han River. The upper beams of Dongho Grand Bridgeare painted blue with straight concrete piers. It has the triple purpose of serving pedestrians, car drivers, and locomotives. It has uniquely designed metal flames showing triangular shapes. Its original name was Geumho Grand Bridge, However, Seoul City Hall changed its name, reshuffling all the names of bridges.
The Hannan Grand Bridge, connecting Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul and Banpo, Seocho-gu, Seoul, was completed in December 23, 1969. The total cost of construction was 150 billion won in 1969. I always pass this bridge whenever I want to enter the Gyeongbu Expressway. It was called the 3rdHangang Bridgein the past. By the way, it was renamed to its current name with the inauguration of “the Hangang Development Project Complex”. If you want to travel to the Tower of Mt. Namsan, the US Embassy in Korea, Namdaemun Market, Gyeongbok Palace, Changgyeong Palace, the Government Sejongno Complex, and other landmarks in Seoul, it is convenient for you to use Hannam Grand Bridge.
The Dongjak Grand Bridgeconnects Ichon-dong, Yongsan-gu with Dongjak-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul. Overall, it gives a womanly feeling with gracious arches, blue upper beams, and handrails. Built in 1984, it is the first dual purpose bridge serving vehicles and trains. Compared to the Seongsoo Grand Bridge, it relieves me from worrying about the possibility of collapse.
In fact, after the disastrous collapse of the Seongsoo Grand Bridgein April, 1994, citizens in Seoul suffered from post-traumatic stress. At least 28 commuters including students, elderly, and young children perished in the accident. Dong Ah Construction Co. Ltd., a major firm in Korea had to compensate the families of victims after being harshly reprimanded by residents in Seoul.
When I had finished thinking about the bridges in Seoul, I finally reached the Alla Ferry Terminalin Incheon on April 23, 2015. A gale was blowing against lined stores in Incheon. I bought two tickets for a round trip to Seongmo Island located 1.5km west of Ganghwa Island. I had to move to the port of Seongmo Islandfrom Oepo-ri. Seagulls in groups swarmed around the guardrail of the ferry, which was powered by a diesel engine. It was roaring ceaselessly, splitting turbulent waves.
As soon as a toddler of a lady tore a plastic bag of shrimp chips open, dozens of chirping seagulls swiftly landed around her. Their only purpose was begging for bits of shrimp chips. They are slightly larger than doves, crows, snipers, woodpeckers, robins, and hawks. However, they are rather smaller than cranes, eagles, and swans. Their unrelenting jumping down to visitors gave another fun from traveling to Seongmo Island. Observed closely, they don’t show any aggressiveness or danger to travelers. Their character is quite soft, womanly, and gracious. It is magnificent to view seagulls which embroider the cobalt blue sky. They glide long distances, soar to the height of 8,000 feet, hover in the sky, or smoothly touch down onto wetland. They feed on green seaweed, bugs, rats, grains, or tiny fruits. Their eggs are brown or olive. They have evolved into sophisticated seaside birds with swooping skills, piercing eyesight, and steadfast flying techniques. They seem to be another king of seaside birds because vultures, hawks, and eagles don’t slay them.
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